Yatra against EVMs which took off from Dadar to cover 14 cities

Updated: Aug 24, 2019, 08:24 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

As supporters gathered around the group who first congregated at Chaityabhoomi Dadar and then moved on towards the base of the Shivaji statue at Shivaji Park, cries of 'EVM hatao' rent the air

The convoy participants and supporters at Shivaji Park. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The convoy participants and supporters at Shivaji Park. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Fuelled by petrol and a passion to see Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) replaced by paper ballots in the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections in Maharashtra in October, a group of 'EVM hatao' yatris took off from Dadar to Nashik on Friday.

These eight 'yatris' who proceeded towards their destination in a car are public-minded individuals and activists who wanted to, "consolidate opinion and support for the necessity of doing away with EVMs for every election. The awareness that these machines can be manipulated and tampered with is there, the next step is consolidation," said Firoze Mithiborwala.

As supporters gathered around the group who first congregated at Chaityabhoomi Dadar and then moved on towards the base of the Shivaji statue at Shivaji Park, cries of 'EVM hatao' rent the air. EVM hatao allies belted out slogans like," Adani and Amit Shah ke achche din aaye.'

Route moot

Dhananjay Shinde of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who was present to support the yatris (they will be back in Mumbai on August 31 after a nine-day yatra) said about the route, "At least six regions will be covered and 21 districts touched upon. Nashik is the land of andolan (struggle). Even the long march by farmers began from Nashik to the city earlier this year."

Ravi Bhilane who is part of the convoy said, "We will have public meetings through the route. There are scheduled stops at Raigad Killa and Gandhi Ashram in Wardha." When asked why they opted for a yatra instead of seeking a meeting with the Election Commission, they claimed they had little hope of being granted an audience as, "a letter seeking a response as early as far back as June last year is yet to be acknowledged."

Even as the protesters posed for before-the-journey pictures, Yash Paranjpe from Dadar, a yatri, said, "This is the way civil society can create pressure on the EC. The EVM machines brought in in 2009, need to do the disappearing act." When pointed out though that it was the Congress that introduced the machines, Paranjpe said, " This is the reason why we do not see their [Congress] full scale participation in protests against EVMs."

Jyoti Badekar, part of the team of eight, claimed those who were against EVMs were being painted as "criminals." Even as she spoke, Yusuf Parmar, All India General Secretary (Minority) of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), regretted that Rahul Gandhi, "was not vocal against EVMs post election. If he had been, we would have seen a bigger mass movement against the machines."

As they got into the vehicle, a few well-wishers pumped their fists in the air and shouted, "Inquilaab zindabad." Activist M A Khalid who saw off the convoy said, "those who support Modi get idli and those who do not support him get ED — Enforcement Directorate," as the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan wound its way forward.

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